Yesterday Paul and I jumped into the water at Pasquales, a notoriously heavy beach break. To get there we sailed through the night and motored as close as we dared to the open sandy beach with no shelter for Patience. At 45 feet we dropped the anchor, Jade manned the vessel and Daniel took on the roll of dinghing Paul and me closer to the waves and staying just outside the lineup in order to pick us up after we had caught one or two waves and keep a watchful eye over us.
As we motored to the line up the waves appeared as large green bulbous shapes from the back, which lifted out of seemingly nowhere and then crashed just a few dozen yards later in a violent explosion sending huge sprays of whitewater into the air and through the back of the wave. It looked heavy. We jumped in. Paul and I hung on the outside of the line up to assess the scene, I knew right away that this spot was over my head.
The waves looked scarier closer up. Guys were mostly leash less on their shortboards in order to avoid breaking their surfboards when one of these monster waves closed out and sent them hard into the shallows of the beach. These surfers were also really good. I watched some of them drop into a wave, catch a tube ride and fly back over the shoulder at mach speeds.
I paddled left and I paddled right, unsure of where I’d actually be willing to paddle into one of these waves. Finally I found my spot. A set wave came. I could immediately tell that I’d be able to catch it from my position and that there was a shoulder to surf on it if I was fast enough to make the drop, bank hard to the right and find the rideable face. It looked big. I turned and paddled 3,4,5 strokes, I was in. Quickly I stood to my feet as the bottom dropped out of the wave. In a seeming instant my head was 3 or 4 feet lower than the lip of the wave. I managed to make a turn up the wave and was able to pop over the edge before the entire face came crashing down just beyond my escape. Relief. Followed by dread.
I made it out of this wave, which was the first of a “clean up” set. I heard guys hooting and shouting as a wave far bigger than the one I just caught darkened the horizon. I was in the impact zone. A couple of guys ahead of me managed to get over the wave by what appeared to be a vertical paddle up the face of it. I stared at the pitching wave trying to time my duck dive and my last deep breath of air for the oncoming impact. The wave pitched over itself just a few feet ahead of me and crashed in a violent explosion. I dove off my board to gain as much water over myself as possible… not enough. I went for a violent tumble. My eyes remained open and I could see the white water sucking me over the falls and then pushing me into darkness. The sandy bottom of the ocean floor stopped my downward movement and I was dragged underneath the surface. My leash was taught and kept me from surfacing. I remembered why all the guys weren’t wearing their leashes. Still underwater I reached for my ankle where my leash was fastened and began pulling myself up along it. I surfaced when I reached the end of my climb, gasping for air.
Hypoventilated I turned in the direction of the oncoming waves and saw the third set wave build on the outside of the line up. Paul at this point was being washed around next to me, he also was graced to feel the power of Pasquales first hand. We were further to shore so the immediate impact of the third wave pitching and crashing wouldn’t hit us as hard as the previous one.
We both stared in awe at the force of nature that had erected itself infront of us. I was hyperventilating at this point preparing myself for the inevitable hold down of this large and heavy looking wave. Paul saw a guy drop into it and with this frame of reference estimated the wave at double over head plus and it broke from top to bottom. We let the force of this wave wash us to shore.
Humbled we appreciated the forces that greeted us to the mainland Mexico surfing experience.